Entertainment The Best British Documentaries  

Ranker Film
276 votes 118 voters 9.8k views 36 items

The British are frequently considered the best journalists on the planet, so it adds up that they would make fantastic documentaries. This list of the best British documentaries spans a wide range of topics with one constant: they are all excellent examples of British documentary filmmaking. Whether you're from the UK or not, if you enjoy documentaries and British perspective, then you you'll want to watch the films below.

Exit Through the Gift Shop was directed by famous graffiti artist Banksy, and tells the story of Thierry Guetta, who become known as the graffiti artist Mr. Brainwash. To this day people still aren’t sure whether or not the entire project was a hoax orchestrated by Banksy.

Dont Look Back documented Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of the UK. It is widely considered to be one of the finest documentaries ever made.

Which of these English documentaries are your favorites? Vote them to the top of the list, and add any to the poll that aren't already here.

list ordered by

13 4
Cracked Actor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best British Documentaries
Cracked Actor is a 53-minute-long BBC television documentary film about the rock star David Bowie. It was filmed in 1974. At the time he was a cocaine addict and the documentary has become ...more

16 8
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The Thin Blue Line

12 6
Exit Through the Gift Shop is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best British Documentaries
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial "In the late 1990s, a hybrid form of graffiti began appearing in cities around the world. Enlisting stickers, stencils, posters, and sculpture and spread by the burgeoning Internet, it ...more

8 5
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Grey Gardens is a 1975 American documentary film by Albert and David Maysles. Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer also directed, and Susan Froemke was the associate producer. Although Susan Froemke is ...more

6 3
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Régis Debray, Marceline Loridan Ivens, Landry
Chronique d'un été is a documentary film made during the summer of 1960 by sociologist Edgar Morin and anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch, with the technical and aesthetic ...more

6 3
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Nyla, Allakariallak, Cunayou
Nanook of the North is a 1922 American silent documentary film by Robert J. Flaherty, with elements of docudrama, at a time when separating films into documentary and drama did not yet exist. In ...more

6 3
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Man with a Movie Camera is an experimental 1929 silent documentary film, with no story and no actors, by Soviet director Dziga Vertov, edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova. Vertov's feature ...more

6 3
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Dont Look Back [sic] is a 1967 American documentary film by D. A. Pennebaker that covers Bob Dylan's 1965 concert tour in the United Kingdom. In 1998 the film was selected for preservation in ...more

7 5
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The Up Series

4 2
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The Sorrow and the Pity is a two-part 1969 documentary film by Marcel Ophüls about the collaboration between the Vichy government and Nazi Germany during World War II. The film uses ...more

4 3
Out There is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best British Documentaries
Tess added Out There
Stephen Fry

1 0
Adam Curtis: Bitter Lake is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best British Documentaries
Bard added Adam Curtis: Bitter Lake George Bush, George W. Bush, Joanne Herring

Bitter Lake is an award winning 2015 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. It argues that Western politicians have manufactured a simplified story about militant Islam into a good vs. evil argument, informed by and a reaction to Western society's increasing chaos and disorder, which they neither grasp nor understand. The film makes extended use of newsreels and archive footage, and intersperses brief narrative segments with longer segments that depict violence and war in Afghanistan.

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Sans Soleil

6 6
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Night and Fog

3 3
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Peter Bogdanovich, Joseph Cotten, Elmyr de Hory
F for Fake is the last major film completed by Orson Welles, who directed, co-wrote, and starred in the film. Initially released in 1974, it focuses on Elmyr de Hory's recounting of his career ...more

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West of the Tracks

3 3
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Harlan County U.S.A.

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Leaving Neverland is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best British Documentaries
Leaving Neverland is a 2019 documentary film directed and produced by British filmmaker Dan Reed. Leaving Neverland describes how Michael Jackson allegedly began relationships with two young ...more

4 5
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Shoah is a 1985 French documentary film directed by Claude Lanzmann about the Holocaust. The film primarily consists of his interviews and visits to German Holocaust sites across Poland, ...more

3 4
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Nostalgia for the Light is a 2010 documentary drama written and directed by Patricio Guzmán. "In Chile, at three thousand metres altitude, astronomers from all over the world gather ...more

3 4
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Gimme Shelter

3 4
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Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen
Listen to Britain is a 1942 British propaganda short film by Humphrey Jennings and Stewart McAllister. The film was produced during World War II by the Crown Film Unit, an organisation within ...more

2 3
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Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS was the most riveting, provocative, and hotly debated film of the year. Despite their predilection for ...more

0 1
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Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright
Tea with the Dames is a 2018 documentary film directed by Roger Michell. Acting greats and Dames Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith have let the cameras in on a ...more

2 4
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Titicut Follies is a 1967 American documentary film directed by Frederick Wiseman and filmed by John Marshall, about the patient-inmates of Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane, ...more